14th February 2022

By Sher-e-Azam


KARACHI

Scores of Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) activists staged a sit-in outside the Sindh Assembly on Sunday, February 13, calling for the immediate release of Member of the National Assembly (MNA) Ali Wazir who at this point has spent nearly 14 months in prison for allegedly delivering anti-state speeches in Karachi.

While Wazir was nominated in five first information reports (FIRs) regarding alleged seditious speeches, he was arrested in two cases registered under similar charges at the Sohrab Goth police station and Shah Latif police station. After consistent delays in court hearings, his bail application in the case registered at the Sohrab Goth police station was accepted by the Supreme Court of Pakistan. His immediate release was ordered on the submission of a surety bond worth Rs. 400,000, some 11 months after his incarceration.

However, as his bail application in the case registered at the Shah Latif police station is still pending hearing in a trial court, Wazir remains in jail.

On Sunday, PTM workers demonstrated outside the Sindh Assembly against the MNA’s imprisonment in what they claim are fake cases, and called for cancellation of the FIRs registered against him and other activists of the movement registered in different police stations in Karachi.

Chair of the PTM, Manzoor Pashteen, told Voicepk.net that Wazir remains detained despite the Supreme Court’s orders for his release, and that his organization has been forced to stage protests to urge the Sindh Government to exercise its constitutional authority to withdraw the FIR. He further pleaded that the PTM is a peaceful movement and has harmed no one.

“We are not here to oppose anyone. We are only here to demand that the Sindh Government discard the FIRs lodged against MNA Ali Wazir and listen to the grievances of the Pashtuns residing in Karachi. We are holding a peaceful sit-in which will continue until our reasonable demands are met,” Pashteen explained. “Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and other members [of the Pakistan Peoples Party] have supported us. All we want is for them to grant Pashtuns relief, which should be an easy task for them.”

PTM leader and social activist Mullah Bheram said that the problem is not just Ali Wazir’s unfair incarceration but Sindh’s mistreatment of Pashtuns as a whole. He alleged that PTM workers are being kidnapped for ransom, and called on the authorities and institutions to adhere to their constitutional limits.

“Everyday [Pashtuns] are being targeted in violent attacks, they are being kidnapped and murdered,” he claimed. “Our true goal is to free Pakistan from this unconstitutional darkness, our goal is rule of law. Pakistan should be run by its institutions provided they remain within their constitutional limits.”

PTM Karachi leader Noorullah Tareen told Voicepk.net that PTM is not a political party, and per its constitution, it is a non-violent movement for the equal rights of Pashtuns.

“PTM is a non-parliamentary protest movement, we are not associated with any political party,” he insisted. “We are currently holding this sit-in for our 18-point agenda, and our primary demand is the immediate release of Ali Wazir and withdrawal of cases lodged against dozens of PTM workers over the past three years.”

Vice-President of PTM Sindh Mohammadullah regretted the state’s attitude towards PTM, stating that although the cases against MNA Ali Wazir have been disposed of, there has been an utter lack of interest in listening to the movement’s peaceful demands.

“The Government held negotiations with people who shut down the city, destroyed cars and assaulted citizens and even withdrew all cases against them. But they are refusing to give release orders for Ali Wazir, a sitting MNA,” he said.

PTM leadership claims they had submitted their agenda to the Sindh Government, but there have yet to be any talks or negotiations. After weeks of planning, the movement now plans to remain at their protest spot until their primary demands for Wazir’s release and discarding of FIRs against their activists lodged in various Karachi police stations are fulfilled.

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